A year after Edward Snowden leaked NSA documents and tactics Americans are still asking if he is a traitor or a freedom fighter. Misinformation has been spread concerning Snowden’s motivations and actions, and a good section of the public does not know the specifics of what he revealed or why. Beyond the vague information about the National Security Agency (NSA) spying on American citizens, specifics have been lost in the shuffle of blame and fame.
Edward Snowden worked for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) as a systems administrator and engineer, a solutions consultant, and a telecommunications information officer. In these positions he was exposed to a far-reaching picture of how information is used in the world. He recognized abuses of privacy by many countries acting in collusion. Speaking about this to fellow CIA employees did not offer any release from his feelings of injustice, and eventually he was compelled to act. The NSA believes it acts in the best interests of America, and that a little loss of privacy is negligible when compared to the freedom and security the organization offers. Snowden thinks differently. He saw that the NSA’s systems for collecting data was running rampant, and that innocent people were as monitored just as suspected criminals and terrorists.
Specifically, there exists a “five eyes” agreement between America, Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia. These countries share their data in an effort to see and understand global threats. They also spy on each other, but work together when their interests line up. The NSA has created many intelligence gathering programs that monitor and collect massive amounts of data daily using programs such as Muscular, Egotistical Giraffe, Xkeyscore, Bullrun, Dishfire, Blarney, and Co-Traveler. Each system has been crafted to harvest a particular brand of information, whether it be texts, emails, phone calls, or even hotwiring interfaces. Blarney is a program designed to leverage specific corporate partnerships around the world to gain access to high-capacity fiber optic cables. The information Snowden revealed goes far beyond Americans having their phone calls monitored.
Unlike many whistleblowers who remain anonymous, Edward Snowden choose to go public and give the world the chance to judge if he was a freedom fighter or a traitor. He believes the global public is due an explanation for the motives of those who act outside the democratic process. Inherently, that is the issue with the NSA and the “five eyes” collaborative. To “protect democracy” these groups are subverting the law. This is a fundamental paradox that Snowden saw could collapse democracy and endanger freedom. Snowden believes the public should choose if these actions should continue, and his actions have given the public the leverage to do so. However, the American public is largely unaware of what this leverage is, due to the misleading and superficial coverage the story has been given.
On February 6th, 2014, a classified briefing was shared with members of Congress informing them that Snowden has a complete list of every single government official and employee. This list includes names, addresses, phone numbers (listed and unlisted), and social security numbers. This list also includes anyone who contracts with the government, such as bankers, corporate board of directors from the private sector, and all current and past members of the Federal Reserve. This list includes all who hold licenses with the government such as lawyers, doctors, stock brokers, etc. Misinformation has been flooding the web to silence this single man who has turned the cameras back on the watchers.
Edward Snowden is under threat for the truth he exposed. This doomsday list has been shared with over 1,200 web sites around the globe as a security package for his life. If he vanishes or dies this information will be shared with the public, and it will be up to them to decide what to do with it. Apparently the federal government has so much to hide that Snowden can set terms for partially exposing them on three violations of freedom. First, he has claimed that if martial law is declared in the U.S., or if a single election is disrupted for any reason, the government employee data will be released. Secondly, if an economic collapse is orchestrated, all the information on bankers, commodities traders, and stock brokers will be exposed. Thirdly, if corporations begin extreme inflation all the data on their board of directors will be released.
Edward Snowden has broken many laws to bring this state of affairs to light. For this he has become an exile and his life is in jeopardy. He did this publicly to empower people to ultimately make the choice about how governments run. It is up to the people of the world to look at all the facts and choose for themselves whether Edward Snowden is a traitor or a freedom fighter. He has been nominated for this year’s Nobel peace prize because the debate he opened up about liberty has contributed to a more transparent global community. He has recently joined the board of directors for the Freedom of the Press Foundation as his cause is the cause of free speech. If people do not like the ways in which the world operates, it is up to the people to change it.
Opinion by Grace Pollari